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Anti-social behaviour Policy

VERSION NUMBER 3.5

1. Purpose

Genesis is committed to tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) in a responsive and robust manner. We recognise that if allowed to persist, ASB can significantly affect the quality of life for our customers and that dissatisfaction with the living environment may have a negative impact on the way we are able to manage our homes.

ASB can include a range of activities and is a problem which has many causes. It requires a wide range of responses to tackle it effectively. We balance enforcement action and intervention with programmes which aim to prevent ASB. We use a three-point approach to tackling anti-social behaviour: engagement (including preventative measures), support and enforcement (including legal action).

We support the Respect - ASB Charter for Housing and are committed to tackling ASB and promoting a culture of respect in the communities where we work.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Tackle the causes of ASB and prevent incidents of ASB from arising
  • Prevent incidents of ASB from escalating, where they do arise
  • Take the necessary management intervention and legal action to deal with perpetrators of ASB
  • Provide customers with appropriate advice and assistance
  • Work in partnership with specialist agencies where appropriate
  • Support staff to tackle ASB
  • Support customers and sustain tenancies

2. Definitions

The term anti-social behaviour covers a wide range of selfish and unacceptable activities that have a negative effect on the quality of community life and the private lives of people within those communities.

We use the following definition of ASB, as stated in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014:

  • Conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person
  • Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises, or
  • Conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person.

People to whom the conduct may cause nuisance or annoyance includes:

  • Anyone who has a right to live in property that Genesis owns or manages
  • Those living in any other property in the neighbourhood
  • Anyone else lawfully in such a property or in the locality, for example those working nearby or using local facilities.

Housing-related nuisance means behaviour that directly or indirectly related to or affects our housing management function to carry out day-to-day activities and the strategic management of our stock.

Matters that directly affect the housing management function include cases where a person’s behaviour impacts on our ability to deliver a maintenance, rent collection and neighbourhood management service.

Matters that indirectly affect the housing management function could include behaviour that impacts on social care and housing support, environmental health, refuse collection and other services that enable us to operate efficiently.

Domestic noise and neighbourhood disputes are frequently and incorrectly reported as ASB. These include, but are not limited to, noise caused by children, television noise, cooking smells etc. Please refer to the domestic noise and neighbour disputes policy for further guidance.

3. Customer obligations

All customers, their household members and their visitors must show consideration to their neighbours by complying with the terms of their occupancy agreement and not commit, or allow their family or visitors to commit acts of ASB. This includes harassment, noise nuisance, annoyance or disturbance to other residents, their visitors or other people in the area, such as our staff and contractors whether unintentional, deliberate or personally motivated.

4. Tackling the causes and dealing with ASB effectively

There are many factors that could influence someone’s behaviour in a way that others might consider anti-social. Where these are identified we will provide support to the customer directly or by referring customers to external agencies as necessary.

We positively take into account any mental health conditions or learning disabilities that make it difficult for a customer to control some types of behaviour.

We use a multi- agency approach in dealing with ASB issues where necessary, by sharing knowledge and expertise, including feedback to assess the effectiveness of the interventions used.

We aim to deal with ASB in a proportionate and appropriate manner. Our approach includes engaging with complainants and alleged perpetrators, providing support and/or taking enforcement action.

We also use preventative approaches, which include:

  • lauses in occupancy agreements prohibiting ASB and detailing customer responsibilities
  • Providing new customers with information on our policy and procedure on ASB at the start of their occupancy and at settling in visits
  • Publicising our commitment to dealing with ASB, for example in newsletters
  • Sensitive lettings, in line with our allocations policy
  • Community initiatives
  • Effective design of new developments and where possible improvements to existing developments, so as to reduce the potential for crime and ASB
  • Considering refusing applicants with a known history of serious ASB
  • Assessing support needs, providing support directly or referring customers to external agencies as necessary. This is applicable to both victims and perpetrators alike
  • Provision of support for perpetrators with the aim of reducing further incidences of ASB

5. Responding to reports of ASB

Customers can report ASB to Genesis by phone, e-mail, in writing or in person. We advise customers to report all criminal behaviour to the police. We record and investigate any anonymous reports that we receive.

We take a customer focused approach to tackling ASB. Working with the complainant and the alleged perpetrator, we aim to reach agreed actions, timescales and ultimately closure. Except in very serious cases, our initial intervention aims to stop the problem behaviour. We recognise that early intervention is important to stop cases escalating.

On receiving a report of ASB, we:

  • Listen to complaints and give advice as to what the complainant can do and what they can expect from us
  • Assess and monitor any risk
  • Keep to specified target response times for acknowledging and responding to reports of ASB
  • Ensure the emergency services have been notified where there has been/is a risk to life and begin our investigation within 2 working days
  • Develop an action plan with the complainant, being clear and realistic about potential outcomes and timescales involved, choosing from a toolkit of different actions and taking action proportionate to the type of ASB reported
  • Advise the complainant that they will be expected to play an active role in supporting the investigation, for example, by keeping diary sheets and reporting crime to the police
  • Refer customers to external agencies as appropriate
  • Liaise with relevant internal departments
  • File all reports of ASB and monitor the progress of the case
  • Keep in regular contact with the complainant

On some occasions, an alleged perpetrator may make a counter-claim against the original complainant. We adopt this same approach on responding to counter-claims.

6. Taking action against perpetrators

The intervention we use varies according to the nature and type of ASB reported.

When a problem first arises, we may encourage customers to speak to the person causing the problem where appropriate, with a view to resolving the problem. If deemed not appropriate, we interview the alleged perpetrator.

We ensure that people who are responsible for ASB know the possible consequences of their behaviour, including the possibility of losing their home.

We carry out regular estate inspections. We monitor and respond to incidents of ASB in communal areas such as graffiti, misuse of gardens, fly-tipping etc.

As part of our investigation of a reported ASB case, we consider whether there are any wider household needs, including child protection issues. If a staff member has any concerns relating to child or adult abuse or neglect, this is reported to the relevant authorities, in line with our policies on safeguarding.

6.1 Non-legal action

Mediation - We consider mediation in cases where a discussion between neighbours has not been possible or has not resolved the issue. This is a process aimed at resolving disputes between two or more parties on a voluntary basis. The process is facilitated by a third party and is based on the principle of reaching resolutions through communication and compromise. In cases where we consider this tool appropriate, and a complainant is unwilling to make use of it, we may advise that we are unable to investigate the matter any further.

Warnings - Prior to taking legal action, warnings can be issued and copies kept on file .These can be issued when the ASB is continuous but the perpetrator refuses to acknowledge the problem and/or deal with the issue following intervention and advice by relevant Genesis staff. All issued warnings are recorded and monitored.

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC) – This is a written contract drawn up between the alleged perpetrator and Genesis. It is not legally binding but we often involve the police and other relevant agencies in their construction. The ABC usually stipulates that the perpetrator does not engage in or carry out certain deliberate acts which are considered anti-social.

Parental Contracts - Where informal interventions are used against those under 18 years of age, we can use Parental Contracts to monitor the behaviour of the individual, in partnership with the parents or guardian. This tool is similar to an ABC but is signed by the parent or guardian. If the behaviour of the parent is seen to be a contributory factor in the child’s behaviour, we also involve other agencies in their construction.

6.2 Legal action

We consider legal action where there is sufficient evidence. Eviction is only considered where other interventions have failed and is used as a last resort.

We make use of the following, as appropriate to each case:

  • Legal notices
  • Discretionary possession order using ground 14 of the Housing Act 1988
  • Mandatory possession order using ground 7a of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
  • Forfeiture of lease
  • Civil Injunctions
  • s.21 Notice Requiring Possession for an assured shorthold fixed term tenancy
  • Notice to terminate a licence

We also work with partner agencies to use the following:

  • Noise abatement notices (issued by local authorities)
  • Premises closure orders for premises where drugs are used unlawfully or where the premises is associated with significant and persistent disorder (with Police)
  • Parenting contracts/ orders

We ensure that breaches of orders are enforced quickly and appropriately, in discussion with complainants, our partners and the courts as appropriate.

7. Supporting complainants and witnesses

We aim to build an environment where victims and witnesses feel confident and safe to report ASB. We work with our partners to provide support to the person reporting ASB and witnesses of ASB to achieve this.

We support victims and witnesses of ASB by:

  • Involving them in discussions about the action plan to resolve their issue
  • Keeping them informed of any developments
  • Referring them to appropriate support services, where necessary
  • Providing them with information of other agencies e.g. the Police and local authority Environmental Health Team
  • Where attendance at court is required, reimbursing them for travel expenses, explaining court procedures, offering pre-visits to court in advance, escorting them to court and offering mentoring services
  • Taking practical action to protect those at risk, by ensuring their property is safe.

Alternative housing options for general needs complainants are only considered as a last resort, where all other options have been exhausted and where there is evidence of risk to the complainant. Our focus is on stopping the ASB, rather than on transferring complainants elsewhere.

Sometimes the victim or witness may not live in a Genesis property, but be an owner-occupier or customer of another landlord. We work with our partners to support and protect that victim or witness. We also offer support and advice to Genesis customers experiencing ASB from a property that we do not own or manage.

8. Closing the case

After a report of ASB has been investigated, we draw it to a close. We consult with the complainant beforehand and explain our reasons. We listen to any reasons they give us as to why we shouldn’t close the case and advise them accordingly.

A case may be closed where:

  • An investigation has been concluded, appropriate action has been taken and no further incidents have occurred over a given period (this will vary depending on the nature of the case)
  • We are unable to get sufficient evidence in order to take any action.

If a complainant withdraws their complaint, we may close the case. In some cases where we have sufficient evidence, we may be able to continue to pursue the case without the complainant’s involvement.

The complainant is notified in writing that the case is closed and that they can contact us should the problems reoccur in the future. On closing an ASB case we seek the views of complainants and ask how satisfied they were with our handling of the case. We use this information to improve our service.

9. Multi-agency and partnership working

We recognise that any one agency alone may not be able to solve the problems of ASB in communities. We have adopted a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling ASB.

We join local partnerships and work positively with external agencies, such as:

  • Local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships
  • Police - Community Support Officers and neighbourhood police teams
  • Environmental health departments
  • The probation service
  • Substance misuse agencies
  • Health services
  • Local authorities social services, including children’s and adult’s services teams
  • Schools
  • Youth offending teams
  • Floating support agencies

We work in partnerships at both the strategic level (for example on Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships) and at operational levels (for example with local police and support agencies).

9.1 Community Trigger

The Community Trigger is one of a number of tools available to agencies in accordance with The ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014. We participate in the procedure adopted by any local authority where we have properties and work with partner agencies to ensure victims of ASB are heard and action taken as appropriate.

We appoint a lead officer to liaise with the relevant body and cooperate fully if a request for review is made by a Genesis customer. The lead officer coordinates our response and oversees any recommendations attributed to us.

10. Data protection and information sharing

The Power under section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998 allows agencies to disclose information for the detection and prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. We ensure that, where appropriate, we have signed local information sharing protocols so that information about complainants and perpetrators may be shared with other agencies for the purpose of preventing ASB or crime. Any information exchange will be compliant with the Human Right Act 1998.

11. Confidentiality

Interviews and conversations with customers about personal and sensitive matters are carried out in private. The identity of victims, reporters of and witnesses to ASB is only disclosed to third parties with their express permission. However, in some cases, customers need to be aware that it will be apparent to the alleged perpetrator who the reporter is.

12. Multi-landlord estates

Wherever possible, we ensure that there is a consortium management agreement in place that sets out clear standards and agreed approaches in multi- landlord estates.

13. Involving customers

We consult with our customers on ASB strategies and initiatives and develop action plans to tackle ASB in partnership with customers. We have effective feedback methods in place for customers to let us know their views, for example, through attending forums or responding to surveys. We provide customers with performance reports containing information and updates on how we are dealing with ASB.

14. Publicity

We ensure that the wider community knows the successful outcomes of our work to prevent and tackle ASB through effective publicity.

We ensure our customers understand what ASB is and how they can report incidents to us. We publicise our approach at customers’ meetings and conferences, on our website, in newsletters, annual reports, leaflets and posters.

In conjunction with out communications team, we decide where to publicise action we have taken on a case by case basis. We always balance the rights of the individual against those of the community. This means action taken against perpetrators will not generally be publicised other than to customers who gave evidence.

15. Staff support

We do not tolerate abuse against staff or contractors, whether physical or verbal. We take appropriate action against customers and members of the public who are abusive, as set out in this policy.

In line with our policy on prevention of unacceptable behaviour, harassment and violence towards staff, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our staff. We provide staff with support and training to:

  • Confidently identify and investigate ASB reports
  • Cope with difficult and dangerous situations
  • Keep up-to-date with current best practice and legislation, including awareness of child protection and protection of adults from abuse.

16. Monitoring and performance

We record and monitor all incidents of ASB and use this data to benchmark, internally and externally. We set targets and use performance indicators to monitor our performance on tackling ASB.

We monitor cases of ASB by diversity strands – both of complainants of ASB and alleged perpetrators, and analyse this data. This is in order to:

  • Increase our understanding of who perpetrators and victims of ASB are
  • Determine whether some groups might not be reporting ASB, or whether certain groups are disproportionally represented amongst alleged perpetrators or victims
  • Tailor our services accordingly.

We continuously improve our range of ASB services, including our preventative initiatives and schemes, by listening to our customers and other key partners, through satisfaction surveys and customer feedback in all its forms.

17. Diversity and inclusion

We conducted a diversity and inclusion assessment and concluded that this policy does not adversely impact a particular group of customers. The assessment did show that we do not hold adequate data for our customers and as a result we have updated our ASB procedure and interview forms. To request a copy of the diversity and inclusion assessment, please contact us at policy@genesisha.org.uk or for further information on our commitment to equality and diversity at Genesis please visit our website.

18. Customer engagement and impact

Customers who attend the ASB forum were asked to comment on proposed changes to this policy. Their feedback was incorporated into the final version of the policy.

19. Related internal documents

  • Hate incidents and hate crime policy
  • Domestic Abuse policy
  • Domestic noise and neighbourhood disputes policy
  • Safeguarding children and young people policy
  • Safeguarding adults from abuse policy
  • Serious offenders policy
  • Comments, compliments and complaints policy
  • Lone working procedure
  • Data protection policy
  • Occupancy agreements

20. Legislation, regulation and guidance

  • Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
  • Anti-Social Behaviour is Social Housing (England) - Parliament UK, 2015
  • Reform of anti-social behaviour powers - Statutory guidance for frontline professionals – Home Office, July 2014
  • Empowering Communities, Protecting Victims. Summary report on the Community Trigger trials - Home Office, 2013
  • Putting Victims First. More Effective Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour - Home Office, 2012
  • Neighbourhood and Community Standard - HCA, 2012
  • Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour – Tools and Powers for Social Landlords - DCLG, 2010

Hints and Tips for resolving domestic noise and neighbourhood disputes

Genesis houses a diverse range of customers with different lifestyles. We encourage customers to respect these differences and also be mindful of how their lifestyle may impact on others. Sometimes, these lifestyles can clash and we want to support customers to be able to resolve these at the earliest opportunity. You can read our full policy on domestic noise and neighbourhood disputes here. Below are some hints and tips for resolving such incidents:

  • Do not lay laminate flooring (this is only permitted if you have our permission)
  • Be mindful that between 6pm and 8am your neighbours are likely to be asleep or settling down
  • Ensure your TV is set at a reasonable volume
  • Don’t place speakers by the walls and use headphones where possible

We promote tolerance and an understanding that each customer has the right to their own chosen lifestyle, as long as it does not negatively interfere with the lives of others. When receiving complaints of domestic noise or a neighbourhood dispute, we advise our customers to politely discuss the issue directly with their neighbour in the first instance, if they feel confident to do so. Here are some tips on how to start a conversation:

  • Make a friendly visit to your neighbour to discuss the situation
  • If you don’t feel comfortable approaching them, leave them a note explaining what the problem is
  • Be mindful that your neighbour may not be aware that they are causing a problem and the problem could be easily resolved
  • Have some suggestions on how to settle the matter e.g. agree on what times to play music or carry out DIY
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